Emersons wonderfully complex character lives in a time of intrigues, secrets, and simmering unrest between Catholic France and Protestant England, and between Englands secret papists and followers of the New Religion. Restless Lady Susanna is anything but the socially acceptable compliant wife when she, over her husband Sir Roberts objections, travels from her home in Kent to the cold North to investigate the murder of the caretaker of the familys neglected estates. Well educated and wealthy, Susanna, an expert herbalist, is completing a compendium on the subject. Her knowledge of herbs plus her dogged persistence leads her to uncover unresolved troubles from the past, and the cause of the murder.
The storys description of English village and manor life is augmented by details of ambitious Sir Roberts travels to France as special courtier to Queen Elizabeth. Portraits of Queen Elizabeth, young Mary Stewart, and Queen Catherine de Medici, and hints of the looming Huguenot rebellions provide rich historical information for this era that the Scots clergyman John Knox labeled the monstrous regiment of women.
This is the first in the series of eight featuring Lady Susanna Appleton.